A North Carolina man pleaded guilty on Friday to opening fire in a Washington pizzeria that fake news reports claimed housed a child sex ring linked to 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
4 authorities reported that Welch fired multiple shots inside the restaurant in Washington D.C. after driving from Salisbury to "self-investigate" a conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton used the restaurant for a child sex ring. The story turned out to be false, and Welch was arrested for brandishing an AR-15 rifle and revolver while in the restaurant.
Welch remains jailed, and he faces up to a seven-year prison term when sentenced later this year.
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Edgar Welch, 28, pleaded guilty to the federal charge of interstate transportation of a firearm with intent to commit an offense and a local charge of assault with a unsafe weapon, Reuters reports. Each offense carries a maximum sentence of 10 years, although it's likely that he'll end up serving smaller, consecutive sentences that could total 7 years behind bars. A third charge, firearm possession, was dropped as part of a plea deal.
Welch told police he was investigating a bogus conspiracy theory known as "pizzagate".
Welch surrendered to law enforcement following the incident, but his armed entrance shocked the pizzeria's staff and management, already beleaguered by the fake news story. Welch made his way to the back of the restaurant with no one interfering. At about 3 p.m., he marched inside the restaurant, which was occupied by employees and customers, including children.
He then fired the rifle inside the restaurant with rounds hitting the walls, door and computer.
During the Friday hearing, U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson asked Welch if he transported weapons from his home in North Carolina to the Washington, D.C. pizzeria. An employee who was outside said that he heard three loud bangs, and that when he came inside Welch pointed the rifle at him, an allegation that Welch denied.
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